At this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) music, film and interactive festival, UCLA is represented by no fewer than four filmmakers, including Catherine Hardwicke, the director of “Thirteen” and “Twilight.”
Hardwicke attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in the late 1980s, around the same time the first South by Southwest took place in Austin, Texas. The event started mainly as a music festival, although its name, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense thriller “North By Northwest,” already had a cinematic ring to it. It was not until 1994, however, that film was officially added to the program.
Since then, South by Southwest has developed into one of the country’s biggest interactive media festivals, incorporating music, film and the Internet, and when the clock strikes midnight today, Hardwicke will kick off this year’s festival with a screening of her werewolf fairy tale “Red Riding Hood.”
The film stars Amanda Seyfried as the doll-faced main character who has to go through so much before she can find personal strength ““ and a sexy wolfman lover. Hardwicke, who will also hold a directing master class at the festival on March 12, said she was especially excited to showcase the film at South by Southwest.
“I’m a Texan myself, so I always love coming back to Austin,” said Hardwicke, after a recent cast and crew screening.
Alumnus Brian Crano, who graduated in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in acting and playwriting, will also attend this year’s festival with his first feature film, “A Bag of Hammers.”
Coincidentally, Seyfried, an old friend of Crano’s, also has a small part in his film. “A Bag of Hammers” is a quirky comedy about two misfit friends and a small child, wise beyond his years, who together become the family they always needed.
The website for the festival mentions that its purpose is to be a tool for creative people to develop their careers and share their ideas. This proved to be true for Crano: He met British musician Johnny Flynn at last year’s festival, and Flynn ended up creating the entire score for “A Bag of Hammers.”
“That’s what I love about the festival ““ there seems to be a kind of intellectual heathenism about it,” Crano said. “You can bounce around from seeing really great films to seeing fantastic new music to seeing the latest cutting-edge technology, all the while meeting amazing, creative people. And then, of course, you gorge yourself on barbecue!”
Hardwicke and Crano will be joined by third-year directing students Lucas Mireles and Eric F. Martin, who will both screen short films they made during production classes at UCLA.
Mireles, a Texas native, will screen his ultra-short comedy, “Love Analysis,” at 11:30 p.m. on Friday. This film follows a man who tries to convince his best friend to date his sister and displays a completely different side of Mireles, who recently attended the Slamdance Festival with his very serious film “Hijo de mi Madre.”
“(“˜Love Analysis’ is) the shortest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m really happy with how it turned out,” Mireles said. “This whole experience has taught me to never give up on the little projects. My film is only 50 seconds long, but so far it has earned me my biggest premiere yet.”
Martin, meanwhile, gained entrance to the festival with “Fran’s Daughter,” a tense drama about two women who learn they might have been switched at birth. He said he initially started writing the movie on a dare from a friend, inspired by Lars Von Trier’s and JÃ¶rgen Leth’s experimental film, “The Five Obstructions.”
A vegetarian of 15 years, Martin is the only one of the four UCLA filmmakers who has never before been to Texas.
He explained that, with the competent assistance of Mireles, he has recently engaged in a kind of meat-eating boot camp to train for his upcoming experience with Texan barbecue.
“How can I go to Texas and not have barbecue?” Martin said, laughing. “A couple of weeks ago, I bought a fresh, free-range, all-organic chicken and went over to a friend’s house, cooked and ate it. I hope to advance to pork before I finally graduate to beef when I get to Austin.”